Don’t Write Alone | Interviews

Jennifer Maritza McCauley Believes That Home Is a Feeling, Not a Place

In this interview, Jennifer Maritza McCauley discusses her debut story collection ‘When Trying to Return Home,’ the power of female kinship, and the allure of the short fiction format.

When Trying to Return Home

When Trying to Return Home

When Trying to Return Home

Scar On/Scar Off

Vanessa Genao: When did you know you wanted to put together a collection of stories? What came first, the themes or the stories themselves?

Where I’m BoundScar On/Scar Off

VG: You do a fantastic job of creating distinct voices for each narrator. What is your approach to crafting voice?

VG: With the locations and time periods depicted in this collection, you must have done a lot of research. What did that process look like, especially when writing about the often undocumented and unarchived experiences of Black Americans and Afro-Latinos? When did you turn to archival materials, and when did you consult other sources, such as family or friends?

VG: The collection is titled and consistently explores the question of belonging. How has your understanding of home evolved through working on this collection?

VG: Many stories explore complex dynamics between mothers, daughters, and sisters. What power do you find in writing about women in community?

VG: As a Dominican American woman myself, I found so much joy and self-recognition in the lives of these characters. What does it mean to you to write about (Afro-)Latinidad and Blackness?

VG: What is it about the short story format that intrigues or challenges you? How do you know when an idea is meant to be short fiction?

VG: How has teaching literature and creative writing influenced your own writing and publishing journey?

How can I translate this amazing work I love in a way that students who have never read it will appreciate it?What are the salient points of this text? What is the context? What do they need to know, and what do I need to challenge my students to think about? How can I explain what I just wrote to somebody who has never read it? Why should they read it?

VG: Who do you hope reaches?